**This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 3**
Tormund. Jaime. Brienne. Davos. Gendry. Podrick. Grey Worm. Varys. Sam. Gilly.
I would trade any five of these characters to have Dolorous Edd back.
I’ll go further. I’d trade Arya for Edd (for a moment or two, after she stabbed the Night King, I thought she was dead anyway). I’d trade Tyrion for Edd (I love Tyrion, but let’s be honest, he hasn’t actually been given anything to do since Season 5). I’d even trade Jon or Daenerys for Edd (sure, that would mean that eight seasons of build-up and plot would suddenly end prematurely, amounting to nothing… And the writers would never do, that, right? *Cough* Night King *cough*).
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I’m fully aware that this seems drastic, especially as a very large number of Game of Thrones watchers wouldn’t even know who Dolorous Edd was. That’s almost the point of him. He was the last miscellaneous minor character who had, against all the odds, survived everything that Westeros could throw at him, and he’d done all this without ever becoming actually important enough to be noticeable. Dolorous Edd was the single best thing left in Game of Thrones and he made me happy whenever he appeared onscreen.
I’ll just whizz through a recap of his surprisingly eventful career (or you can watch it here). Dolorous Edd Tollett first appears in Season 2 as part of Lord Commander Mormont’s mission beyond the Wall: just another member of the Night’s Watch with a few sarcastic lines. In the final scene of Season 2, Dolorous Edd is with Sam Tarly and Grenn at the chilling moment when the Night’s Watch is attacked by an army of White Walkers. In Season 3, Sam, Edd and Grenn are all part of Mormont’s band of survivors who retreat to Craster’s Keep. When some of the survivors mutiny and Lord Commander Mormont is murdered, Sam flees and Edd and Grenn are put in chains.
In Season 4, Edd and Grenn escape from the mutineers and get back to Castle Black. Edd then volunteers to accompany Jon Snow in a mission back to Craster’s Keep to kill off the mutineers. Later, in the massive Wildling attack on Castle Black, Grenn and fifty others are killed – but not Edd. In Season 5, Edd accompanies Jon Snow and Tormund to Hardhome to rescue the Wildlings there, and somehow he survives the subsequent attack of White Walkers, making him the first person to make it out alive from two battles with the undead. In Season 6, Edd and Davos are devastated when they find that Jon Snow has been murdered, and it is Edd who goes for help. Davos is rescued when Edd returns with Tormund and the Wildlings, and order is restored in Castle Black. After Jon is resurrected, Edd finds himself the de facto Lord Commander of the remainder of the Night’s Watch. When the Wall is breached, Edd and his companions are summoned to Winterfell, picking up Beric and Tormund on the way.
Partly it was the way that Game of Thrones killed off Dolorous Edd that upset me. After everything he’d been through, he deserved better than being cut down in the first couple of minutes of the battle. The other characters proved strangely resistant to the undead horde, so why didn’t Edd get the same special treatment? Not a single character died in the fight on the walls and in the courtyard of Winterfell. Dolorous Edd could at least have died in a way that showed the character more respect.
But more than that, I am deeply upset that Edd died at all. From the perspective of a viewer, I gradually came to care passionately about what happened to him, precisely because he wasn’t an important character. All the other disposable characters populating Game of Thrones steadily got killed off, until only central, meaningful characters were left – and also Edd. He didn’t matter, and logic dictated that he should have died a long time earlier; but somehow he hadn’t. It helped that he had some of the best lines, and his cynical worldview was endearing. I felt as though I had bet a large sum of money on Edd making it to the end of the show alive. It honestly became the main thing I cared about when I watched Game of Thrones.
For as long as Dolorous Edd was still going, there was a sense that this world was bigger than the struggle between the central characters. This was a world where an average guy could exist, and complain, and have no grand destiny or story arcs, and if he was lucky he could survive some moments of real horror and danger. Edd outlasted all the other background characters, and he got pretty close to the finish-line. But now he’s dead, because this whole world exists to serve the story of Starks, Targaryens and Lannisters. The illusion is gone, Westeros no longer feels so real and complex, and I find myself not particularly minding who sits on the Iron Throne, because Edd won’t be around.
I really care about Edd, alright?